By Harvey Byrne

Former Everton left-back Michael Ball has stated that Manchester United attacker Wayne Rooney could be a mentor to Ross Barkley if he makes a sensational return to Merseyside.

The now 31-year-old broke through the Toffees academy in a similar way to Barkley before making a £25.6million switch to Old Trafford.

He has been linked with a return to Goodison Park having found himself pushed down the pecking order at Manchester United and England in the new campaign.

Now former full-back Ball, who played for the Blues between 1996 and 2001, believes that Rooney’s addition would be an asset for Barkley.

“For me, Wayne is still a quality player and we only have to look at Gareth Barry to show that age is but a number,” wrote Ball in his column for the Liverpool Echo. “Obviously there would be several hurdles to overcome for it to happen but it would be a move that would benefit all parties.

“When Wayne went to Manchester United he was still a young, raw talent learning the game but he had mentors around him.

“At Everton, Rooney could be that mentor, to Barkley and others, and when he pulls on that royal blue shirt he feels more pride that he has done wearing the red of United and white of England.

“Koeman has opened the door for Rooney to return to Everton. Watch this space.”

Barkley, 22, has had a mixed start to the season having once been considered one of the club’s brightest prospects.

He has found himself dropped from the England national team, while also being dropped at club level and has even drawn criticism from Ronald Koeman.

However, the young attacker scored in the Toffees Sunday 2-0 victory over West Ham, taking his tally up to three goals in 11 appearances and fans will be keen for him to start a scoring run.

The Toffees are currently sat in sixth place in the Premier League as they prepare to travel to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea on Saturday.

In other Everton news, manager Ronald Koeman delivers a Twitter message following the Toffees victory.